This Homemade Sweet Potato Cornbread is made using a classic recipe with buttermilk, roasted sweet potatoes and drizzled in either maple butter or cinnamon honey butter. This is a must for any spread including Sunday Dinners, holidays, and Thanksgiving.
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What’s the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
In most grocery stores there is no difference between the two. Most stores often label sweet potatoes as yams.
Yams have more starch and are drier. They have bumpy tough, brown skin. Yams are typically used in Caribbean and West African dishes. You have probably never eaten yams, as they are hard to find in the United States.
Years ago, Southerners (primarily in Louisiana) started to refer to them as yams. And since this is a Southern recipe, you will often hear it called candied yams.
You can read more about The Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes here.
Do You Have to Cook the Sweet Potatoes First?
Yes, you will need to use mashed sweet potatoes for the recipe. Be sure to cool them first. You don’t want to combine piping hot sweet potatoes with raw eggs. To ensure they are cooled, I often make them the night before.
This is sometimes a debate on which way is best. Do you boil them or bake (roast) them. You can’t go too wrong with either method. When boiling the sweet potatoes I do find they are sometimes watery. So my favorite way is to roast the sweet potatoes I actually use the air fryer to do this.
To use the air fryer, wash and scrub the sweet potatoes clean. Spritz with a little olive oil and rub it into the entire potato. Air fry for 35-40 minutes on 400 until the sweet potatoes are soft.
To use the oven, bake for 60-70 minutes on 400 degrees until soft.
To boil, place the sweet potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover the sweet potatoes. Bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until they are soft.
Pierce them with a fork to determine if they have softened.
Do You Use Sugar or Sweetener?
This is totally up to you. The use of sugar in cornbread is a common debate, especially for traditional recipes. This is meant to be a sweet version with sweet potatoes, so I recommend using the amount that is suggested in the recipe. Feel free to do as you wish. I use brown monkfruit sweetener.
What Kind of Cornmeal to Use
You will need yellow cornmeal along with all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix
You can also use self-rising cornmeal which replaces the need for cornmeal, flour, and baking powder because it’s already mixed with self-rising all-purpose flour (which produces AMAZING cornbread). You can purchase it here, it’s available here on Amazon. If you go this route you will need 2 cups for this recipe.
How to Make Sweet Potato Cornbread
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Pour 1/4 cup of the melted butter throughout the cast iron skillet pan.
- Add the self-rising cornmeal, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar or sweetener to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Next add in the eggs, remaining butter (1/4 cup), buttermilk, and sweet potatoes. Stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the cast iron skillet.
The cornbread should be baked in the oven on 400 degrees.
How to Get Cornbread with Crispy Edges and Crust
To get a really crispy crust, be sure to add your batter to a piping hot, buttered skillet. This recipe will produce cornbread that has a crispy crust and somewhat crumbly interior. Southern cornbread is typically a little crumbly, as it pairs well with chili, collard greens, stews, and more.
Do You Have to Use a Cast Iron Skillet?
My firm opinion is yes if you want the best tasting cornbread, especially one with a crispy crust. A cast iron will also cook the cornbread more evenly. I use this cast iron skillet from Amazon.
You can still use this recipe without a cast iron. You can use an 8×8 baking dish/cake pan. You may have to adjust your cook time. Keep a watchful eye and test using a toothpick.
The cornbread will taste much better using a cast iron skillet and it is traditionally prepared using one.
Do You Have to Use Baking Powder?
Yes, unless you use self-rising cornmeal mix. Baking powder is needed in order for the cornbread to rise.
How to Substitute Buttermilk
You can substitute/make your own buttermilk if you wish by combining milk and vinegar (or lemon). Get instructions on How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute here.
Buttermilk is a soured product so it will be more acidic than milk. This will react with any rising agent such as baking powder used in the recipe and give a better rise to the product. Do not simply substitute milk alone in this recipe.
Milk is used in baking recipes for thinning the batter. That’s not what we want here. Milk does not lower the pH of the cornbread and is therefore very different from buttermilk.
Why Does My Cornbread Crumble?
Southern cornbread is meant to crumble some, period. However, you should be able to slice it and remove pieces from the pan. It should crumble, but it shouldn’t be crumbly. It will begin to crumble as you are eating it.
Be sure not to over mix the batter when you combine the dry and wet ingredients. This is a common baking rule of thumb. Over-mixing will lead to large cracks in the crust and a lot of crumble. Only mix well enough to combine the ingredients.
Can You Use Jiffy Mix?
You can if you want (that wouldn’t be homemade cornbread).
How to Make Them into Muffins
Yes, these work wonderfully as muffins! Follow the instructions noted in my Cornbread Muffins recipe. Bake for 15-20 minutes on 400 degrees or until a toothpick returns clean.
How to Store it/Can You Make it Ahead
Cornbread is best served hot and fresh, but can be made up to 8 hours ahead of time (with the same fresh taste). I store leftover cornbread in the refrigerator (tightly sealed) for up to a week.
To freeze the cornbread, wrap it in foil or in plastic wrap for 2-3 months. Thaw on the counter at room temperature for a few hours.
Pair With These Main Dish Recipes
More Sweet Potato Recipes
Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes
Purple Sweet Potato Recipe
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet Potato Au Gratin
Healthy Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet Potato Beef Chili
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes
Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes
More Cornbread Recipes
Homemade Blueberry Cornbread
Homemade Southern Cornbread
Seafood Dressing Recipe
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Air Fryer Cornbread
Keto Low Carb Cornbread
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Homemade Maple Butter
Check out our list of The Best Authentic Soul Food Recipes here.
Soul Food Sweet Potato Cornbread
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup brown sugar or sweetener Optional. Omit if you don't like sweetened cornbread. I recommend light brown sugar.
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk See notes for substitution.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/2 stick, melted, measured solid.
- 1 cup sweet potatoes Cooked, mashed, and cooled. See notes.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Used to grease the skillet/pan.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar or sweetener, and salt to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Next add in the eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter, buttermilk, and sweet potatoes. Stir to combine. Be sure not to over-mix the batter. Over-mixing will lead to large cracks in the crust and a lot of crumble. Only mix well enough to combine the ingredients.
- Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on medium heat (alternatively you can use any baking dish you wish and skip this step). Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow it to melt and then grease the entire skillet including the edges.
- While the skillet is hot, pour the mixture into the cast iron skillet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and return clean.
- I like to cool the cornbread completely prior to slicing and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
- For a smooth batter, puree your sweet potatoes using a hand blender. I like to serve this cornbread with small chunks of sweet potatoes throughout, so I mash the sweet potatoes by hand instead. This will result in a thick batter that sometimes has bulges at the top of the crust. If you puree the sweet potatoes first, the batter will be more smooth.
- You can substitute brown sugar or sweetener for regular sugar if you wish.
- The taste of this cornbread isn’t overly sweet. I love to serve it with Maple Butter or honey which adds sweet flavor. If you want really sweet cornbread, add additional sweetener or sugar.
- Self-rising cornmeal can be used in this recipe because it is already mixed with self-rising all-purpose flour (which produces AMAZING cornbread). You will need 2 cups to replace the corn meal, flour, and baking powder used. I recommend you purchase your own, it’s available here on Amazon. You can make your own by combining 2 cups of cornmeal, 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- You can use any oil instead of butter if you wish.
- To get a really crispy crust, be sure to add your batter to a piping hot, buttered skillet.
- Every oven cooks at varying speeds. I often have to rotate the placement of foods in my oven halfway through the cooking process because the area facing the back of the oven cooks at a faster pace.
- You can substitute/make your own buttermilk if you wish by combining milk and vinegar (or lemon). Get instructions on How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute here. Buttermilk is a soured product so will be more acidic than milk. This will react with any rising agent such as baking powder used in the recipe and give a better rise to the product.
- Do not simply substitute milk alone in this recipe. Milk is used in baking recipes for thinning the batter. That’s not what we want here. Milk does not lower the pH of the cornbread and is therefore very different from buttermilk.
- Be sure not to over mix the batter when you combine the dry and wet ingredients. This is a common baking rule of thumb. Over-mixing will lead to large cracks in the crust and a lot of crumble. Only mix well enough to combine the ingredients. If your cornbread does not hold or falls apart, this is where you went wrong.
- You can still use this recipe without a cast iron. You will likely need less than 1/4 cup of butter to oil your pan. Use your judgment. You can use an 8×8 baking dish/cake pan. You may have to adjust your cook time. Keep a watchful eye and test using a toothpick.
- Cornbread is best served hot and fresh, but can be made up to 8 hours ahead of time.
- Macros assume zero calorie monkfruit is used. Feel free to use the macros calculator of your choice to calculate accurate macros utilizing the branded ingredients you use in the recipe.